Who is Behind Eroc the Skateboarding Dog?

Written by: Sophie Taylor

He changes back into a dog as soon as we leave the skate park

Eroc the french bulldog is making waves. With fans like Tony Hawk*, BBC Radio and over 30k followers (and counting) on Instagram, Eroc has also become something of an online sensation. His viral status comes and goes, randomly popping up on online social media channels every now and again to generate hundreds of thousands of views and clicks via the likes of Buzzfeed, Time Out and rogue iPhone filmers.

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So what are they all watching? What’s attracted so much attention? Spotted in Clissold Park, the active frenchie has been filmed and photographed multiple times jumping on his own board and performing tricks in the skatepark.

After witnessing a few gnarly aciddrops, we started to fold back the layers of puppy skin to find Eric, the real French Bulldog behind alter-ego Eroc.

“He changes back into a dog as soon as we leave the skate park” says his human mum / bestie, Claire. “On the halfpipe he’s like Sasha Fierce of the skate world. Then we put his lead back on and he becomes Eric the frenchie again. Much like Beyonce, yes.”

The truth is a very different story.

His parents have experienced their fair share of criticism for Eric’s habits. 

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Dealing with comments online from people claiming he must have been forced to learn to skate for our entertainment, Joel and Claire just have to laugh. The truth is a very different story.

“We have no bearing on his talent. One day we were distracted in a park talking to friends when we couldn’t see Eric. We soon realised he had borrowed someone’s skateboard and wheeled himself down a small hill on it.”

And so it began. After a few visits to the skate park where Eric was always welcomed with open arms, his love of other people’s skateboards started to concern Joel.

Unfortunately Eric’s skating techniques involve a lot of teeth and board gnawing which was starting to take it’s toll on Joel’s board.

Their friend Pete of Three Amigos Skate Shop saw the damage Eric was doing to his mate’s board and kindly sponsored Eric a board of his very own.

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In time Eric was crowned ambassador for Skate Pal, a non-profit organisation that works with communities throughout Palestine to enhance the lives of young people and promote the benefits of skateboarding. Eric now has his very own Skate Pal board which has been put to very good use.

Another charity Eric firmly supports is Long Live Southbank, a non profit organisation set up to help preserve, maintain and represent the creative community of skateboarders, BMXers and visual artists of Southbank Undercroft. 

We don’t see the point in marketing him in that way.

Like any athlete-diva-pro, Eroc’s diet had to change in accordance with his new found fame and athletic lifestyle.

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Getting sick on a diet of over processed supermarket dog food, Claire and Joel decided to start feeding him natural foods and soon discovered raw pet food brand, Nature’s Menu. Eroc quickly became the all natural dog food brand representative.

He need not worry about where his next meal is coming from now, nor getting sick again from low quality pet food.

Since the early eighties Nature’s Menu have been creating wholesome food for pets free of artificial colours and flavourings or meat derivatives.

Their recipes are made up of quality meats and fish, blended vegetables, fruits and healthy carbohydrates, using British suppliers and ethical product sources wherever possible.

Besides a few ethical or independent brand endorsements, Eroc and his family currently receive no financial gain from his wheelie habits.

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Unfortunately, as his online popularity rose, so did the need for Eroc’s protection. Shying away from turning him in to a caricature themselves, they soon realised that he needed to be trademarked in order to save him from infringement.

Claire and Joel discovered a snapchat filter called the skateboarding pug. However it’s markings, colourings and pointy ears represent more of a certain French Bulldog who also happens to skateboard too (not a pug at all).

“People assume we must be making money from it all. But when a video of him goes viral online for example, the person who uploaded it gets the advertising money, not us.”  Claire

“We had to take steps to make sure he is defendable by law, so that he’s not abused of his rights. Having a business profile on Instagram for example, now legitimises him as an entity. Otherwise you’re fair game in the viral world.” Joel

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Claire cringes remembering her own brief foray into the spotlight as they arrived at BBC studios to record an interview with BBC Radio London.

“He shot off in to the building by himself and I had to run after him. I never run! Not even Joel has seen me run before.

Suddenly there’s footage of me sprinting after Eroc all over the news!” she laughs, pink cheeked at the memory.

a nuisance that should be on a lead

Unfortunately with exposure comes trolls and Eroc is not immune to his fair share online.

The comments rolling underneath the BBC News video of Eroc skateboarding are a heady mix of negativity, all falling out with one another over the relevance of the footage.

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As one labels Eroc a ‘nuisance that should be on a lead’, another comment reads, ‘all the people who are commenting saying,

“this isn’t important” need to re-evaluate because THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I’VE EVER SEEN.’

This fixation with Eroc is born out of love

The couple describe how there will always be those outraged by his skateboarding skills, assuming they must be forced upon him.

“They think we must have taught him how to skate under a strict regime that borders on animal abuse. Luckily his fans know his urge to skate just comes naturally.

They’ll respond to those concerned that you can tell he hasn’t been taught anything.” Joel

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“Yeah, the hardest bit is trying to get him to leave the park.” Claire

When Eric’s vet asked how his dog kept so lean, Joel replied casually, “oh, that’ll be all the skateboarding.” The vet looked at him blank faced before moving on quickly, declining from asking any questions.

But the idea of a skateboarding dog is neither a novelty nor a new phenomenon. Carrying out a quick Google search you might come across the Mexican ceramic sculpture of a skateboarding dog from 450 – 650 AD, hinting at a long history to the canine’s penchant for wheeled travel.

Novelty or not, Eroc’s appeal doesn’t appear to be waning. His popularity is not just indicative of a nation-wide obsession with french bulldogs, however long-lasting this breed ‘fad’ seems to be lasting.

No. This fixation with Eroc is born out of love: from a love of frenchies to the bulldog’s own love of skating. But most importantly from Claire and Joel’s love for Eroc. They are exclusively concerned with the welfare of Eroc and definitely have his best interests at heart: skating and good food.

Photos by Mike Barry.

* yes, Tony Hawk. They’re besties now and hang out in Clissold Park, even though Eric totally stole Tony’s board (he let him keep it). See here for actual video evidence

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